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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Saudi Arabia says all government-held Yemen border crossings open for aid

Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabia'ah, adviser to the Royal Court and general supervisor of the King Salman Centre for Relief and Humanitarian Action, said the port in the Saudi city of Jizan, which lies around 75 kilometres from the Yemeni border, could also be used for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Yemen

Yemenis wait to collect drinking water from a donated water pipe in the capital, Sanaa, on November 18, 2017. Yahya Arhab / EPA
Yemenis wait to collect drinking water from a donated water pipe in the capital, Sanaa, on November 18, 2017. Yahya Arhab / EPA

Saudi Arabia says all Yemeni border crossings controlled by the government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi are open for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabia'ah, adviser to the Saudi Royal Court and general supervisor of the King Salman Centre for Relief and Humanitarian Action, said the port in the Saudi city of Jizan, which lies around 75 kilometres from the Yemeni border, could also be used for the delivery of aid to Yemen.

Dr Al Rabia'ah was speaking at a high-level meeting of the Partnership for Permanent Peace in Yemen in Rome on Friday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

It comes after aid agencies warned that thousands would die unless more supplies were allowed into the country.

On November 6, the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen of behalf of Mr Hadi's government shut down Yemen's borders, as well as its sea and air ports, after a missile launched by Houthi rebels targeted Riyadh's international airport. It has since partially eased some restrictions on ports.

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Médecins Sans Frontières said on Saturday it had not been able to deliver live-saving medical and humanitarian assistance to Yemenis in the capital, Sanaa, because it had not been given permission by the coalition to fly there from Djibouti.

It welcomed the reopening of the port in the southern city of Aden but said more needed to be done.

Dr Al Rabia'ah on Friday condemned Houthi attacks on United Nations aid deliveries and relief organisations and workers between 2015 and 2017. He cited cases of workers being killed, kidnapped and imprisoned, as well as instances of looting and robbery and ports and offices being closed.

He said the King Salman Centre for Relief and Humanitarian Action had not stopped providing assistance to Yemenis despite such violations by the Iranian-backed rebels.

The total assistance provided by Saudi Arabia to Yemen from April 2015 to October 2017 amounted to $8.27 billion (Dh30.4bn), he said, adding that the King Salman Centre had broken the rebels' siege on the southwestern city of Taez with its airdrops of food and medical aid.

Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir on Thursday accused the Houthis of causing starvation in Yemen by besieging civilian areas and preventing supplies from coming in or out.

The same day, the leaders of the World Health Organisation, the UN children's agency and the World Food Programme issued a joint appeal for the further easing of restrictions at ports.

"The space and access we need to deliver humanitarian assistance is being choked off, threatening the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families," they said.

Save the Children said on Wednesday that an estimated 130 children or more die every day in Yemen from extreme hunger and disease. It said more than 50,000 children are believed to have died in 2017.

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